The story and death of Inspector William Donaldson is commemorated every year by the Town Council, who gather at the Town Hall to remember the first police officer in Surrey to lose his life in the line of duty.
The story is well-told in detail on The Haslemere Society’s website (click button below) – but briefly, the Inspector was violently assaulted by Thomas Woods and others on the night of 29th July 1855.
Woods and his mates had been drinking hard in the Kings Arms in Haslemere High Street on this Saturday night. With some of their friends detained in jail (on the ground floor of what is now the Town Hall) a confrontation with the Inspector ensued.
Woods hit Donaldson with an iron bar, and others joined in the assault. Donaldson was killed, his Constable injured, and the local doctor assaulted.
All fled but were soon rounded up, and were eventually sentenced to terms of hard labour, penal servitude and, for Woods who somehow managed to escape the death penalty, 20 years transportation to Australia, during which he died.